Dem ballot crowded for Charleroi borough primary
Four council hopefuls and a mayoral candidate are running as a team, vowing to “restore Charleroi.”
Mayor Nancy Ellis and her predecessor, Frank Paterra are both seeking Democratic Party nominations for that office – and also seats on borough council.
They help to form a crowded ballot that includes four candidates for mayor and nine people seeking four seats on council.
Former Charleroi chamber Executive Director John Mollenauer and constable Marcus Carroll also are seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor.
In addition to Paterra and Ellis, the following are seeking Democratic nominations for council: Bob Arthurs, Tom Dubreucq, Deborah L. Kruell-Buck, Terrence M. Newstrom, Larry M. Celaschi, Paul Pivovarnik and Edward M. Bryner.
Kruell-Buck, Newstrom, Celaschi, and Pivovarnik are running as a team – along with Mollenauer – under the Restore Charleroi ticket.
No one is seeking Republican nominations for mayor or council.
Dual candidacy is nothing new for Ellis, who successfully ran for mayor and council in 2009. Ellis, at the time council vice president, defeated Paterra, 287 to 152.
Two years ago, Paterra lost a bid to join council by six votes.
Ellis explained her political indecision as such, “There are a lot of people who felt they liked me as mayor, but felt council needed someone who spoke their mind, and I think I'm pretty good at that.”
Mollenauer said Restore Charleroi has a team agenda.
“We think we have more strengths as a unit than someone who said, ‘I have my own agenda,' Mollenauer said.
Pivovarnik, an incumbent, said the five candidates decided to run together “to get Charleroi back on the right agenda.”
“We're all dedicated to bringing Charleroi together, to bringing the businesses together,” Pivovarnik said.
Newstrom said the slate includes a mix of council members and new candidates with a mix of ideas for improving Charleroi.
Mollenauer promised he would reach outside the borough to bring business to the Magic City.
“Our message is we have to focus to bring this town back,” Newstrom said. “We have to bring businesses in to expand the tax base to create a larger police department to fight the drug problem.”
Mollenauer said the team is loyal to Charleroi.
“We believe in the families of this community and working together keeps a small town strong,” Mollenauer said.
“We have received some real good ideas from the people,” Celaschi said.
Celaschi and Newstrom said the ticket is encouraging residents to bring their ideas to council meetings.
“There's a lot of enthusiasm with this unit,” Mollenauer said. “I think we can be successful with some of our ideas to improve this town.”
Kruell-Buck said she would like to see a better Charleroi.
“I feel all of us can work together as a team,” Kruell-Buck said. “I don't have a magic wand, but I think we have a lot to offer.”
Ellis said voters should elect her “because I work hard for Charleroi.”
“I don't see anybody else putting the work I put into that position and the events I attend on behalf of Charleroi,” she said.
“I give 150 percent because I want Charleroi to thrive. I believe we can, and I believe things are being turned around.”
Ellis said formation of the Charleroi Regional Police force was the highlight of her administration.
“The regional police force had to take place,” Ellis said. “It was a matter what was best for Charleroi, and the oath I took to protect the citizens of Charleroi. It was purely survival. ... If we did not do this, we would not have had a police department within two to three years.”
Paterra said he is running for mayor because he wants to end illegal activities. That platform that got him elected in 2005.
“It's something dear to my heart – to rid the town of drugs,” Paterra said. “We need to protect the community by driving these parasites out of town.”
Paterra said he would try to resurrect the Guardian Angels chapter he established during his term in office, when he brought Guardian Angels' founder Curtis Sliwa to Charleroi.
Paterra vowed to bring the FBI to Charleroi to help wage a war on illicit drugs.
Paterra said he would go to court, if necessary, to dissolve the regional police force.
“We had two on a shift before and now have two on a shift – and have to patrol two other communities,” Paterra said.
Paterra said he lost the council race by a slim margin on a day he claimed the poor turnout was affected by the weather.
“If the sun shines, maybe I'll be mayor,” Paterra said. “If not, maybe I'll be on the school board.”
Paterra also is a candidate for the Charleroi Area School Board.
Paterra said he would serve as mayor if he won that position and one of the other two he is seeking.
Edward Bryner served one council term more than 20 years ago. He stepped down to raise a family. Now, with his children grown, he is seeking a return to council again.
“I hope that we can clean up the drug problems and do something about landlords who don't take care of their properties,” Bryner said.
Bryner said he is not tied to any group.
“I think I'm a well-rounded candidate, and I will do what is best for the taxpayers, not special interest groups,” Bryner said.
Carroll, a constable for 11 years, said he has collected more than $750,0000 in fines and costs.
“I feel there's not enough being done with the drug problem in Charleroi,” Carroll said. “Being a constable, I come in contact with people doing drugs, and I know the areas where drugs need to be watched.”
Carroll said he is the only candidate certified in law enforcement.
Carroll said that for two years, he volunteered to transport defendants in Charleroi, because there were only two police on a shift, adding it was unsafe to leave only one on duty.
“We have a serious drug issue. You can buy heroin and crack (in Charleroi) easier than you can buy a gallon of milk,” he said.
Carroll said his top priority is to “go after absentee landlords and make them responsible for the tenants they put in.”
Carroll said the borough has ordinances in place to hold landlords responsible for illegal activity in the dwellings they rent. But he claimed, the majority of problems are related to tenants living in dwellings rented out by absentee landlords.
“(Code enforcement officer) Michelle Mackey does excellent job, but she is shorthanded,” Carroll said.
“She spends majority of her time in court on cases for citations she writes. We need to have full-time police officer per shift to handle them. My attitude is, where in the area where you can buy a decent house for $30,000?”
“If we clean up the area, more legitimate people will move in. And the businesses will follow, because families will want to shop here.
“Let's not worry about marketing the downtown. First, lets worry about marketing the properties we have.”
Arthurs and Dubreucq did not return calls left on their telephones seeking comment.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.